Mount Carmel Ministries on Lake Carlos is giving away nine cabins this year to make way for new sleeping quarters, but there's a catch. The taker has to pay to move them.

"It can be a good deal for somebody but it can also involve a lot of expense," said Mount Carmel Executive Director Tim Peterson. "To me, I can’t imagine transporting them much of a distance.”

Two of the cabins have already been moved away from their foundations to another location on the ministry's property, and even though they moved a short distance, it added up. Mount Carmel is asking anyone who takes the cabin to reimburse them for that initial move, a cost of between $1,000 and $2,100 per cabin.

Takers will also have to pay to move the cabins to their land, which will cost from $5,000 to $10,000, said Neil Anderson, owner of Anderson Building Movers in Paynesville, which is removing the cabins for Mount Carmel. There are also additional costs of putting the cabin on land, such as building a foundation.

Mount Carmel received a donation to cover the cost of the new cabins, and work on those will start this year.

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The two cabins moved this week are 26 feet by 16 feet. One is already spoken for, Peterson said. The other seven cabins are 20 feet by 12 feet and a moving date has not been set. They have plumbing, electricity, and bathrooms, and one has a kitchen. None of them are insulated, as they weren't used in the winter. Some of the buildings will include furniture.

Some of them are original cabins going back to 1938, he said. But they have been remodeled several times since then.

Mount Carmel was built in 1938 by the Lutheran Bible Institute for its summer Bible study program. The institute ran schools in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle and New Jersey, and Alberta, Canada. After the Minnesota school closed in 1985, Mount Carmel became independent and is now an inter-denominational Christian organization, Peterson said.

The ministry attracts visitors from all over the country, he said, but especially from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. It's especially known for its Family Camp, with Bible classes and activities for all ages. It also offers weekend retreats for congregations throughout the year.

How they move them

To move the cabins, they are first jacked up off their foundations, Anderson said. A skid loader then rolls a 30-foot flatbed trailer under the building and the cabin settles onto the trailer.

The $5,000 to $10,000 estimated cost of moving covers a distance of up to about 80 miles, depending on the situation, he said. His company can and has hauled buildings further than that, but that distance is the most economical.

One good thing about moving the cabins is that they're not high enough to require power lines to be moved.

Anderson grew up in Douglas County. His company moves about 150 buildings a year, including many cabins. They have moved some large buildings, including a 90-by-100-foot John Deere building in Sauk Centre, and a 70-by-144-foot chemical warehouse in Elrosa. They use a beam and dolly system built from crossbeams that helps roll the buildings, Anderson said.

The donation

Retired industrialist Leland Sundet and his wife, Louise, are connected to the Mount Carmel and will cover the cost of the new cabins, a figure that Mount Carmel is not disclosing as the final cost is still unknown, Peterson said.

The Sundets have made sizable donations in the past, including $1.5 million to Augsburg University. Leland, in his 90s, told Augsburg University in 2016 how he formed his values of thrift, generosity, and Jesus while growing up in Spring Grove, Minn.

“My father died when I was 6 months old and my mother was quite ill, so she had to sell everything she had to pay the bills. She got $7.43 a month, and of that, 74 cents went to the church,” Sundet told the university for an article on its website.

In his letter offering to contribute to Mount Carmel, Lee said, “Over the last 69 years, my wife and I have saved as much as we can and our philosophy is very simple, ‘Whatever we have is God’s and we want to do the best with what He has given us’.”

Building new

The new buildings include two duplexes, one single-bedroom, handicap-accessible cabin and four two-bedroom cabins, one of which will be handicap-accessible.

"We believe these new cabins will be a great blessing for the Mount Carmel Family," Peterson said in a letter to members. "... Many of the people coming to Mount Carmel now want larger cabins – and newer ones. Mount Carmel has also been moving toward being a year-round ministry. Our seven new buildings, having nine new units, with a total of 17 bedrooms, will greatly increase our winter ministry capacity."

All the new buildings will be built for year-round use. He said the capacity for winter camps will grow from 70 to 90 people.

Because of governmental regulations, the new cabins on the Lakeside Ridge will be farther away from the lake than the existing cabins, he told members.

He said he hopes that the two new duplexes will be finished in time to be used for Family Camp this summer.

However, the other new buildings will probably not be ready in time, he said, and he encouraged campers to bring tents or RVs to make enough sleeping space for everyone.

Mount Carmel is also adding a new tennis/pickleball court and turning its existing tennis court into a basketball court with a gift from Kristi Olson’s estate, he wrote.

For more information about the new buildings, visit

"We have many challenges at Mount Carmel," Peterson wrote. "Updating our lodging is one of those challenges. It is wonderful to receive these cabins as a gift without having to develop a program to raise money for them."

Its other challenges include inviting new people to come to Mount Carmel, finding creative ways to do Bible study, and paying its remaining $500,000 mortgage, he wrote.

Those who want a cabin

Those who want a cabin can call Mount Carmel at 320-846-2744. The ministry will compile a list of interested takers, and will contact them to schedule showings in the spring.

Mount Carmel does not yet have an exact day as to when the cabins will be available, Peterson said.